Overfalls Shoal as an area of shallow water near the
center of the entrance to the Delaware Bay. Four
lightships have marked the location - two of which still
exist. Today, another lightship, currently in Lewes, DE,
carries on the station name.
In 1898, lightship LV 46 was assigned to mark the navigational
hazard. The schooner (built in 1887) displayed red hoop day
marks and a lantern from each mast.
In the event of fog, the ship was equipped with a
steam whistle and fog bell. The hull was colored straw,
and "Overfalls" painted on the side.
LV 46 remained at the station until 1901.
LV 69, built in 1897, served at the station from 1901 to 1925.
LV 69 housed electric lens lanterns, steam whistle, and a fog
bell. An acetylene lens latern was installed in 1920.
The straw-colored hull had "69 Overfalls" painted in
black on its sides.
LV 101 (WAL 524), built in 1916, served at Overfalls from 1926
until 1951. The ship remained on duty during WWII, despite
the presence of German U-Boats. (Upon decommissioning in
1964, the ship was donated to Portsouth, VA, where she is
on display at the Portsmouth Lightship Museum.)
The last lightship to serve at Overfalls was the
WLV 605 served at Overfalls from 1951 until 1960,
when the station was discontinued. (The WLV 605 is
on display in Jack London Square in Oakland, CA.)
The LV 118 (WAL 539) is currently on display in Lewes,
DE. LV 118 was built in 1938, and served from 1938-1972
at Cornfield Point, Cross Rip, and Boston. The ship is
114 feet long, and housed two 375 mm electric lenses
57 feet above the water line, visible up to 12 miles.
Two diaphone fog signals were audible up to 5 miles. Fourteen
crewmen manned the ship. The crew rotated two weeks on and
one week off. After receiving serious storm damage in 1970,
the ship was decommissioned in 1972. The ship was placed on
the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
The ship was eventually moved to Lewes, DE, where the ship
was renamed Overfalls, after the nearby lightship station.
The ship is currently resting in the mud.
Today, the Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation is
restoring the ship, and has opened the ship for tours.
In October 2005, the organization was awarded a
federal grant of $275,000
from the Save America's Treasures program. The grant
is to be used toward the continuing restoration project.
The organization plans to eventually remove the ship
from the water and place it on a cradle. Cost to move
the ship is estimated to be from $1.2 million to $3 million.
Guiding Lights of the Delaware River and Bay, Gowdy and Ruth pp. 277-280
Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation (website)
The Keeper's Log Fall 2003, Summer 2005, Winter 2006
Lighthouse Digest December 2005